The third annual Oceanside/Marlborough, Mass. high school field hockey summer exchange took place over the weekend and met the expectations of Mariner coach Joanna Hall, who sad the official theme for the event was: “Friendship, Fun, Field Hockey.”

All three were achieved July 28 at Oceanside East in Rockland, with six teams from Maine and beyond converging on the field for a day of spirited competition and team-building.

Also returning to the area was former Rockland District High School athletic standout Paula (Reed) Ryder, who graduated in 1994 and will coach the Marlborough team for the 11th season this fall.

Ryder played four years of field hockey with the Tigers before going on to play at the University of Southern Maine, while later being inducted into the college’s athletic hall of fame for her prowess in softball, field hockey and basketball.

Oceanside and Marlborough, along with Mount View of Thorndike, Winslow, Hampden Academy and a collection of players from Orono, Old Town and Foxcroft Academy, named the Kayaks, participated in Saturday games.

For Oceanside and Marlborough, it was a weekend-long event, which began July 27 and ended July 29.

Friday the two teams took in the local sights and rowed with Station Maine, while Marlborough put on a pizza party.

Saturday at the conclusion of the day’s games, which were 20 minutes each, Oceanside players and parents hosted a lobster bake for their visitors.

Official stats were not kept Saturday to keep in tune with the day’s theme, according to Hall.

“Once the season starts there will be plenty of competitive spirit on game days,” she said. “There are so many great field hockey programs with talented players and coaches whose focus is not only on doing one’s best on the field, but showing mutual respect and emphasizing good teamwork and sportsmanship. These aspects help attract girls to the sport and is one reason why field hockey is only growing stronger in Maine.

Ryder also was happy be back at her old stomping grounds.

“It’s nice to be able to share this whole experience with my kids,” she said. “Where I’m from … this was my life for so many years and watching them play against my home team is great. I get to share that and they get a piece of what I grew up with.”

Ryder did not make the trip as a coach, but rather as an observer due to the “hands-off” period for student-athletes in Massachusetts, which begins on the final day of the field hockey season through the first day of summer tryouts.

“It’s very hard,” she said. “The whole time I just want to coach and scream out instructions and things like that, and chances are you’re not going to have anyone turn you in because you’re yelling out stuff, but you go by the rules.”

Concurrently, Maine state “hands-off” period for fall student-athletes began Monday, July 30 and will end at midnight on Sunday, Aug. 12, with the first day of fall tryouts slated for Monday, Aug. 13.

The annual summer field hockey play day is held prior to the start of the state’s “hands-off” period.

“We had such a great weekend and it was a nice way to wrap up summer field hockey and head into the hands-off period,” said Hall. “We are really looking forward to the upcoming season and it should be a lot of fun.”

Ryder said Hall was going through old Rockland record books a few years ago and came across her name and asked Ryder’s brother, Larry Reed, about her.

After finding out Ryder was a field hockey coach in Massachusetts, the idea for the exchange was formed.

According to Ryder, this year was the first “true experience” for her squad, with members of the Marlborough team staying overnight with the Oceanside players.

“It’s nice to see that it’s going the way we wanted it to go,” Ryder said. “The first year our kids were a little nervous [and] they stayed at a local campground, [but] this year it’s a true experience.”

Obviously, things have changed a bit for Ryder. Not only did the school used to be Rockland District High School (before consolidating with Georges Valley High School last year to form Oceanside), but field hockey games were formerly held at Wasgatt Field during her playing days before they were moved behind the current Oceanside East building during the past decade.

Ryder said “they did a really nice job” with the new field.

Ryder said, “there are some outstanding teams in Massachusetts,” while her squad is going to be “in a rebuilding year.”

“We’ve got a young team,” she said. “I graduated eight starters last year and some of these kids are coming into very new positions. But Oceanside has improved so much over the past three years. [Coach Hall has] got a very skilled team.”

Martha Meyer and Lauren Brown officiated Saturday’s games.

The Mariner snack shacked raised $300, with proceeds going to the family of 5-year-old Noah Keene of Rockland, to help with expenses related to his recent arm/hand injury.

Courier Publications Associate Sports Director Mark Haskell can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by email at mhaskell@courlerpublicationsllc.com.